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Turnpike toll up for discussion

MERRIMACK – Legislation making its way through the New Hampshire Senate would remove the toll at Exit 11 on the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

The Senate advanced SB 300, 24-0, which seeks to remove the toll, and the bill will now make its way to the Senate Finance. Sen. Shannon Chandley, D-Amherst, is the prime sponsor of the bill. She said residents of Merrimack have been unfairly burdened with turnpike tolls.

“While we need to ensure adequate funding for our turnpike system, an undue percentage of that should not come from the residents of one town,” Chandley said.

However, New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said removing this toll would be a loss of revenue, with nothing to replacement that money.

“It’s not something we support from the turnpike system’s point of view,” Boynton said.

He said this Merrimack toll dates to the 1980s, as an agreement was made at the time to add to the turnpike system in order to enhance access and economic development in Merrimack. However, he said the debt from the turnpike’s construction would still remain. The remaining debt service totals more than $1.1 million for the construction of Exit 11.

“We’re just concerned about the loss of revenue that allows us to maintain and improve the system without replacing that with at least an equivalent of revenue in some way,” Boynton said.

According to the methodology included in the bill, the ramp tolls will be removed on July 1. The bill text can be found online at, https://legiscan.com/NH/text/SB300/id/1878445.